20mph limit review after Wylam petition

Northumberland County Council members will visit other authorities as part of a 20mph speed limit review

Wylam speed limit campaigners

Councillors in Northumberland are to visit other local authorities as part of a review into their policy on 20mph speed limits.

Members of Northumberland County Council and an officer will visit other areas to look at their stance on where the limits can be imposed. It comes after councillors agreed to review their policy after officers deemed a request for a 20mph zone through Wylam to be unsuitable, saying reductions are not suitable on village main roads.

That request had come after numerous near misses involving pedestrians and vehicles in Wylam, and following an incident where schoolgirl Evie Moffat, 16, was knocked over as she crossed the road to her school bus stop in December.

The accident encouraged villager Lynn Clarke to start a petition to the council calling for 20mph limits to be introduced at the site of Evie’s accident and two other areas of concern on the main road through the village.

It was signed by more than 600 people and was backed by the county councillor for the area, Paul Kelly, as well as Hexham MP Guy Opperman, who sent a letter of backing to the authority.

However, in a report to the council’s West area committee, officers stated that it was council policy that 20mph limits should not be introduced on major routes, such as the main road through Wylam. The council’s report revealed there had been seven injury accidents in the village in the last five years – one serious – with the majority said to have happened on the main road.

Coun Kelly persuaded the committee to call on the authority’s policy board to review its stance on where reduced limits can be imposed and agree they should be assessed on a case by case basis – potentially allowing them to be introduced at the areas of concern at Wylam.

The policy board/area chairs working group then agreed to recommend to the policy board that the 20mph policy be looked at. The policy board since agreed a small member working group should visit other local authorities, with an officer, to investigate “effective and affordable solutions to this particular issue.”

The matter was raised at the council’s petition committee last week. Chairman Coun Scott Dickinson said afterwards the working group would report to the policy board on whether changes could be made to the council’s approach.

“Ultimately the authority’s priority is 20mph limits outside schools and old people’s homes,” he added.

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